The Assault On Human Rights Watch, Ctd

DiA counters Richard Bernstein and Col. Richard Kemp:

Mr Bernstein has little concrete to say about allegations, substantiated by the UN's Goldstone commission, by the Israeli human-rights organisation B'Tselem, and by HRW, that the IDF committed war crimes in Gaza. He writes that it is hard for human-rights organisations to "know" whether crimes took place because they rely on testimony from possibly self-interested witnesses. This is a very strange thing for someone who once founded a human-rights organisation to say, though I can well imagine it coming from representatives of the regimes they criticise.

In my experience working with them, HRW's researchers have been rigorous and scrupulous in their evaluations of testimony and evidence. Mr Bernstein then cites Colonel Richard Kemp, a former British Army commander in Afghanistan, who last week told the UN Human Rights Council that the IDF in Gaza "did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare."

Neither in Mr Kemp's presentation to the UNHRC nor in a longer address he made at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in June did he make any serious effort to substantiate this claim. It strikes me as pandering to Israeli exceptionalism. And it strikes me as all too familiar. I can't hear someone say something like this without hearing the echoes of my sorely misguided older relatives and friends, during my childhood, telling me that no country had ever treated its enemies as well as Israel hadwhich, of course, was not true.